In a move aimed at addressing concerns and regulatory challenges within the agriculture sector, the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) paid a courtesy call on the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Hon. Dr. Bryan Acheampong, on August 21, 2023. This initiative is part of the Chamber’s ongoing efforts to advocate for the interests of local businesses operating within the agriculture sector.
The Purpose of the Courtesy Call
The President of the GNCCI, Mr. Clement Osei-Amoako, led a delegation that engaged with the Minister for Food and Agriculture on a range of issues that have been affecting the agriculture sector. These issues encompassed topics such as existing agricultural policies, food inflation, infrastructure challenges in mechanised farming, and taxation policies. The delegation also brought forth valuable suggestions for improvements in these areas and proposed new policies that could potentially benefit the entire sector.
Key Points of Discussion
Negative Impact of Existing Agricultural Policies
Mr. Osei-Amoako highlighted the negative impact of certain existing agricultural policies on local businesses and farmers. In some cases, were found to be counterproductive, leading to issues such as decreased profitability and hindered growth.
Food Inflation and Cost of Production
The issue of food inflation and its impact on both consumers and producers was a significant concern. The president raised questions about strategies to control food inflation and ensure that the cost of production remains manageable for farmers while providing consumers with affordable products.
Lack of Infrastructure for Mechanised Farming
Modernising agriculture through mechanisation is a crucial step in enhancing productivity and sustainability. However, the lack of adequate infrastructure for mechanised farming has been a challenge. The GNCCI emphasised the need for investments in infrastructure to support and promote mechanised farming practises.
Promoting Made-in-Ghana Goods
Supporting local industries and products has been a priority for the Ghanaian government. The delegation stressed the importance of promoting made-in-Ghana goods, particularly in the context of the agriculture sector. Encouraging consumers to patronise home-grown food products could have a positive impact on the local economy.
Government’s Response and Initiatives
In response to the concerns raised by the GNCCI, Hon. Dr. Bryan Acheampong outlined several key initiatives that his ministry has undertaken to address the challenges and improve the agriculture sector.
Planting for Food and Jobs Phase II (PFJ 2.0)
Hon. Dr. Bryan Acheampong highlighted the implementation of the Planting for Food and Jobs Phase II (PFJ 2.0) initiative. This programme, he said, involves a shift from the current input subsidy system for smallholder farmers to an inclusive input credit system that operates within a robust value chain structure. This approach aims to foster import substitution, stabilise food prices, boost exports, lower entry barriers, and ultimately create jobs within the sector.
Reviving the Cocoa Subsector
Recognising the significance of the cocoa subsector to Ghana’s economy, the ministry has developed a comprehensive strategy for its revival. The strategy focuses on strengthening institutional structures, reviewing producer pricing mechanisms, and implementing prudent measures to reduce and rationalise expenditures. The ultimate goal is to ensure that cocoa farmers receive remunerative prices for their produce.
Payment of Arrears to Suppliers
According to Dr. Bryan Acheampong, he has taken steps to facilitate the payment of arrears to suppliers of inputs under programmes such as the National Fertiliser Subsidy Programme (NAFCO) and the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative. This move underscores the ministry’s commitment to fulfilling its obligations and maintaining strong relationships with its partners.
Bread Flour Substitutes in School Feed Programmes
Dr. Bryan Acheampong also highlighted an innovative step being taken by his leadership—substituting bread flour with corn flour in school feed programs. This strategic move aims to promote the consumption of homegrown products and contribute to the growth of the local agricultural industry.
In conclusion, Hon. Dr. Bryan Acheampong restated his firm commitment to implementing the recommendations presented by the GNCCI. He reassured the Chamber of his full dedication to working together to tackle the issues that were discussed.